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hope and despair.
If you’re like us, you’ve gone down with a ship or two trying to make
the Kingdom story tangible. Maybe you’ve abandoned the boat and
are treading water, hoping a rescue vessel will appear. Or, you’re
already sitting up on the rocks, sopping wet, staring off into theological
oblivion, wondering how much of the the ancient story can really be
true for today. Maybe you’ve captained one of these ships and, without
knowing it, found yourself sailing toward irrelevance. You have people
on board, but they seem to have lost their heart.
ur story is simple: as a bunch of friends living
n Denver who were committed to live out
ncient ways in a modern context of community,
ommunion, and mission, we suddenly found
urselves in the company of followers, most of
hom did not come from a meaningful church
ackground or any church background at all.
Our purpose is simple: we want to talk to you about the
church. We want to let you know that the unsettling feelings
you are experiencing are ones that hundreds of thousands of
people are also working through. We also want to give you
hope and a real-life picture of a preferred future.
Compared to 3 million people in Denver, the number of people in Adullam
is silly to mention. We meet in homes, pubs, and rented facilities. Our goal
isn’t to attract Christian people to our worship service but to be the faithful
church in small pockets throughout our city. We are creating places of
inclusive belonging where God’s alternative Kingdom can be experienced.
THE POSTURE AND PRACTICES OF ANCIENT CHURCH NOW
THE CALL OF THE CHURCH
To Find and Help
Others Find God’s
Things we dont have...
1. all the answers
Things we dont care about...
3. whatever church
Things we do care about...
1. the intangible dream
of God and his church
These two words together describe an orientation toward the ancient faith communities described
in the Book of Acts and throughout history, who lived a countercultural, communal experience that
always influenced the cultures they found themselves in.
These missional/incarnational communities were therefore the natural framework God’s church
was and must still be built upon if we are to continue their rich legacy of making apprentices of
Jesus worldwide. Although small and unsanctioned, these early communities were powerful and
authoritative. Although they were on the run and decentralized, they were organized and strategic.
Although they didn’t know much about starting or growing churches, they did both naturally. Church
just happened, and it was deeply meaningful.
Each evening after the church planting training sessions, we headed out
to grab dinner and ended up frequenting an Irish pub in Queens. Over
several nights we got to know a few of the waitresses and some of their
stories about growing up in Ireland.
One young waitress, Fiona, shared about her religious upbringing in
Northern Ireland. As you can imagine, she seemed to have some faith in
God, but she wasn't too fond of Protestants, Catholics, or the church.
The Yankees were in the playoffs, and the place was packed. I walked in
and headed toward the bar looking for a seat. As I made my way deeper
into the crowd, I heard Fiona calling two bartenders over to meet me.
"This is the guy I was telling you about," she said. "You've got to hear
how he talks about God."
Suffice it to say, you don't get that type of enthusiasm from most church
members. At that introduction, the room split to make room for me.
Over the course of the next few hours,
I got to share a bit of my story and listen
to theirs. As the bar thinned out, the
bartenders invited me to help them clean
up. Eventually, everyone was gone except
Fiona, a few other waitresses, bartenders,
and the owner. We all sat around one table
as they asked one question after another.
Their questions were so sincere, their
anger so justified. Yes, they were jaded,
too, but their intrigue with me seemed
honest and open. I knew I couldn't talk
about church. I knew I couldn't share the
four spiritual laws or tell them I was a
pastor. I just talked about the only thing
I knew they might like: Jesus and the
alternative world he called the "Kingdom
“i just talked about
the only thing i
knew they might
It was just before 6:00 a.m. as I opened the
heavy pub door to head back to my hotel.
The sun was just starting to creep out
above the buildings.
As soon as the door slammed behind me,
I met God again.
I began to cry. Harder than I’ve ever cried. Heaving tears, shaking
uncontrollably. I had to sit down on the dirty curb and put my hands over
my head so no one would see me. I’m sure I looked like a drunk puking in
the street. I suddenly knew what God was doing.
I knew he was saying I could trust him again with my son’s health, that I
could trust him with our finances again, that he’d just been in that pub with
me, and therefore, there was no better place for me to be.
The call was clear.
“the call was to get back in the game.”
The Twin Towers had just gone down; the world seemed fragile at best.
Golf, fishing, the comfort of my custom home, perfectly popped popcorn,
and shifting the burden of people onto someone else seemed like luxuries
I would gladly give up for this feeling of being fully alive and fully engaged.
The call was to get back in the game. To enter the tension again!
The voice was about his church again.
Today was Sunday, and the day began with our Adullam gathering at a
local community center...
About 10:00 a.m., more friends started to show up. Some brought
other friends, some brought food to share, and some just came in. Our
collective community is a strange mix of rednecks, professional athletes,
Bronco cheerleaders, seminary students, young suburban couples, a
herd of kids and babies, many single urbanites, and a handful of empty
nesters who keep us in check For the first 25 minutes, nobody sat down.
Everyone just enjoyed waking up together with coffee, conversation, and
the sound of our kids running all over.
A (Sun)day in the life...
Then we shared some scripture, song, and communion, and one of
our young interns told us about a mission to Zimbabwe and another to
Nicaragua that we’ve all been drawn into.
I left with a sense that everyone was glad they had been
together. I went home to watch the last round of the British
Open. As I settled into what I thought would be a five-hour
‘‘nap-golf extravaganza,’’ the doorbell rang.
It was Biker lenny, asking if his
friends (a local gang of pirates)
could see our puppies.
ow, I don’t want you to miss this picture. Bobby and his
riends, half of whom were women, have enough ink in their
ollective tattoos to overflow the printer cartridges for two
undred HP Office Jets. They all look like a cross between ZZ
op and Howard Stern, and that includes the ladies!
s we sat outside in our garage, some played with the
uppies and the other ones looked over my Harley. Toward
he end of our time, I got the invitation that I’d been asking
od about for the past six months. They asked me to ride
ith them! Finally.
Thanks to the magic of TiVo and the leading of the
Holy Spirit, I was able to leave the British Open and
head off with Captain Jack Sparrow and his band
of bikers to the thunderous sound of six Hogs...
they in their black leather and bandanas, and me
in my church shorts and flip flops.
After the ride, thinking that my day was over, I headed to my local think spot, only
to be interrupted by a phone call from a couple who used to live next door to us.
One of their daughters wanted to be baptized outside, and they couldn’t find a
church that would do this. Her mother had remembered us from a couple years
back and found my number. I told her I’d be honored to baptize her daughter and
invited them to our lakeside baptism gathering to be held a few weeks later.
This day sums up our hope
for you. This day was just
life as usual, and yet it
was filled to the brim with
beautiful expressions of
God’s Tangible Kingdom.
Very little was planned, and
the best parts came as
divine interruptions to my
normally self-focused life.
hat we’re learning is that God’s church can
e natural, and it will emerge anywhere an
ncarnational community exists.
People will always be drawn to people who
look, smell, and behave like Jesus, and if
you’re committed to caring for people who
move toward Christ through you, church
will become a labor of love for you, as
well. Fresh faces, new stories, and a web
of relationships will witness to the tangible
world Jesus called his Kingdom.
“The time has come,” he said. “The
kingdom of God is near.”
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©2008 Missio/CRM Empowering Leaders